“A knowledge of Science is all kinds of power, and it is in the purpose of God that advanced science is taught in our schools…” (The Review and Herald, December 1, 1891)
The National Association of Manufacturing states that the United States will have to fill 3.5 million STEM jobs by 2025. The New York Times also reports that between 2017 and 2027, the number of STEM jobs will grow 13 percent, compared to 9 percent for non-STEM jobs—with positions in computing, engineering, and advanced manufacturing leading the way.
Adventist schools around the NAD are rising to this challenge and putting into place innovative and collaborative programs designed to deliver integrated science, technology, engineering and math. STEM education allows students to learn and practice soft skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, leadership, social skills, leadership and project management. Using hands-on experimentation and project-based learning associated with STEM education encourages students to support a claim with evidence, increase intellectual curiosity, data-driven decision making, creativity, and flexibility. These skills are necessary for engaging in a rapidly changing global economy where innovation, agility, and multiple literacies are essential.
While all these factors are crucial, we want to do more than this; we also want to empower teachers to emphasize the arts, spirituality, and service. As we strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus our focus is not just the global economy but also making a difference for those in need. STEM careers include the ability to serve others in the healthcare field as well as to solve complex problems such as global warming, cancer, world hunger, disappearing habitats, and renewable energy.
Here are three examples of how STEM, design thinking and project-based learning is making real life differences to our Adventist schools:
- Robson Valley Junior Academy in McBride, Canada is using their STEM program to impact children in remarkable ways. They purchased a 3D printer after a fundraising campaign. Classroom teacher, Jerry Stanley, watched a YouTube video on creating prosthetic hands for children with 3D printers. Anticipating that this would be a valuable learning experience for his students, as well as applying the Biblical principles of serving others in a very tangible way, Jerry connected with E-Nable. E-Nable is a company that connects individuals with 3D printers with children all over the globe that need inexpensive prosthetic hands. To engineer a prosthetic hand costs $10,000. While using 3D technology, Jerry could work with his students to create a prosthetic hand for less than $50, which provides limited functionality to those in need. Currently, they have 5 projects underway.
- The Adventist Robotics League is another STEM initiative sponsored by the Office of Education at the NAD. Working with US FIRST, an affiliate partner robotics association. The Adventist Robotics League was started by a group of Adventist educators. Its goal is to inspire students in STEM and to provide unique academic and social skill learning opportunities through robotics in Adventist schools across North America. The Adventist Robotics League operates a growing number of tournaments each year. Our students involved in the robotics programs learn much more than engineering. They learn marketing, time-management, communication skills, and creative problem solving in a fun and engaging way.
- The students in the design group at Forest Lake Academy (FLA) are working with a number of STEM corporate and community projects. One example is a project they worked on with David Jaye of Shower Arm Leak Detection Device (SALD) to develop an innovative shower head. FLA students were approached by Jaye at a fund-raising event to 3D print a prototype of the SALD Device that he has earned a patent for (US Patent 9,410,308). This venture fulfills the vision of the FLA Innovation and Robotics Initiative which is to provide its students with authentic learning experiences that foster deeper learning and student-led innovation.